Love Beets USA LLC: Bala Cynwyd, PA
Years in Produce:
Married; One son
Hobbies: Sailing; wines; Philly sports teams; farming
Motto in life: He who dares wins (motto of the UK Special Air Services).
Work History: Shropshire has built his career working for family farming businesses that take the “seed” and add value to it: first, with Tyrrells Potato Chips (Leominster, UK) then Chase Distillery (Hereford, UK) and most recently with Love Beets. He joined Love Beets in 2013 as the vice president of marketing (a position that moved him to the U.S.) His first accomplishment was to give the brand a refresh and work on the packaging when first launching. He and the team put together a marketing plan focusing on both the retailer and consumer with below-the-line consumer marketing tactics. The best, most recent example of this would be the Love Beets sampling truck demoing all over New York City. Once the brand was better established, he was asked to manage some of the company’s key U.S. retail accounts. He was then named general manager in early 2017. The company posted strong double-digit growth for the year and has won a number of awards for innovation in recent years. He is an active member of the PMA and Eastern Produce Council and is involved in local events in Philadelphia, where Love Beets contributes heavily.
Questions & Answers:
Q: How did you begin working in produce?
Being the fourth generation of family farmers from the UK, I believe it was always in my blood to be a part of the produce industry. I saw the potential to take skills I learned in other industries to develop a brand within the produce sector with Love Beets and embraced the opportunity with both hands.
Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?
I now understand how important networking and building genuine relationships with our buyers and accounts is to be successful. It has taken me over five years to really start making these connections, and I know I need to continue to develop these relationships as our brand moves forward.
Q: What aspect of the business challenged you most early on?
Understanding the fragmented nature of the U.S. retail landscape — and also persuading buyers that consumers would buy into Love Beets if retailers would give us the chance — was a real challenge early on. We had a few customers that went all-in to our brand and others that couldn’t comprehend giving our beets as much space as we would’ve liked to have had.
Q: What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of in your career?
Building a brand from the early days in produce (that some say can’t be done) and having consumers, friends and customers say, “Love Beets, I know that brand!” when I talk to them about what I do. That’s extremely rewarding.
Q: What do you think the industry can do to promote more produce consumption?
Innovate, add value, make things more convenient and taste better for consumers. Being the first stop in the store is the greatest opportunity to get the consumers’ attention.
Q: What was the “aha” moment when you knew the produce industry was the industry for you?
Coming from a branded background but with a family farming history, I was never sure it was possible to blend the two. But now, being with Love Beets for five years and seeing the brand grow, has shown me it is possible.